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Astronomers from the University of Liège discover a new potentially habitable super-Earth

Speculoos-2c was in fact discovered thanks to research carried out on another planet, which responds to the sweet name of “LP 890-9b”. The existence of the latter was revealed by NASA’s Tess (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) space mission, dedicated to the search for exoplanets in orbit around nearby stars.

We used terrestrial telescopes SPECULOOS (Search for habitable Planets EClipsing ULtra-cOOl Stars- located, here is the explanation…), located in Chile and on the island of Tenerifesays Laetitia Delrez, both to confirm the existence of this planet, and to search for other planets that may have been missed by TESS.”. Bingo! This is Speculoos-2c.

Living area

It is about 40% larger than Earthcontinues the astrophysicist. It is particularly interesting because it is located in the so-called ‘habitable’ zone around the star. It is an area in which the temperatures are conducive to the presence of liquid water, which is itself an essential element for life as we know it in our solar system. That’s why we are particularly interested in this kind of planet.”

Speculoos-2c is much closer to its star than the Earth is to the Sun, it goes around it in just 8 days (compared to 365 for the Earth), but its star is 6.5 times smaller than the Sun and it has a surface temperature half that of him. The amount of stellar radiation it receives therefore remains low, as do the temperatures.

Study its atmosphere

Now we don’t know what it looks like in practiceprecise Laetitia Delrez. For example, we do not know if it has an atmosphere. There are many other factors in terms of habitability.”

The next step for the Liège team is precisely to try to detect the atmosphere of this planet, and, if it has one, to analyze its composition to find out more about the conditions on its surface. To do this, the team will apply to be able to use the James Webb telescope, recently launched by NASA.

The idea of ​​being able to use this famous telescope is really very exciting. It opens up new perspectives in the characterization of exoplanets.” The James Webb Telescope allows the atmosphere to be probed at levels of precision never before achieved.